San Luis Potosi Tourist Attractions
How to get thereFrom Mexico City by rail about 10 hours; by bus approximately 6 hours; by car about 425km/264mi on the MEX 57.San Luis Potosí, the capital of the state of the same name, lies on a steppe-like plateau and is important as a traffic junction and a trade centre.
Despite increasing modernisation, the town with its beautiful old buildings and parks has preserved much of the character of the colonial period.HistoryLittle is known of the town's pre-Spanish history. Tanjamanja, a settlement founded by the Cuachichil Indians, was once supposed to have been situated here.The first Spaniards, led initially by Miguel Caldera and soon after by Franciscan friars, arrived in the area between 1585 and 1590. At the same time considerable quantities of silver and gold were discovered, and the settlement of Real de Minas de San Luis Potosí was founded, taking the name Potosí (Quechua: "place of great wealth") from the silver town of the same name in Bolivia. In 1658 the settlement received its municipal charter from Philipp IV. Until 1824 San Luis Potosí was the principal town of an extensive intendencia, to which Texas also belonged. During the French War of Intervention (1862-66) and for a short time afterwards San Luis Potosí served as the seat of Benito Juárez's government which had been expelled from Mexico City.
Palacio de Gobierno
In the town centre is the Plaza de Armas with the Jardin Hidalgo. The Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), a massive, Neo-Classical building dating from the end of the 18th c., stands on the west side. Inside, the Sala Juárez contains life-size wax figures depicting, among other scenes, the meeting between Benito Juárez and Princess Salm-Salm on June 18th 1867. The princess asked the Mexican president to spare the life of Emperor Maximilian who was, however, executed the following day in Querétaro.
San Luis Potosí Cathedral
The Baroque Cathedral, constructed between 1670 and 1740, is also in the main square. The façade of the unusual hexagonal porch is decorated with statues of the twelve Apostles standing in niches. The over-ornate decoration of the interior reveals a mixture of styles.
The church of El Carmen is situated in the Plaza del Carmen, east of the cathedral. Dating from the 18th c., its façade is a magnificent example of Mexican Baroque. The church contains a Neo-Classical high altar, several Churrigueresque side altars and a particularly attractive shell-shaped Camarin.
Teatro La Paz
The Teatro La Paz stands next to El Carmen. Built at the end of the 19th c. from pink Cantera stone, its interior is decorated with murals by Fernando Leal.
National Museum of Masks
The Museo Nacional de la Mascara (National Museum of Masks), which dates from the time of the Porfiriat, is housed in the Palacio Federal opposite. A once private collection of old and new masks from all over Mexico is displayed here.
Address: Villerías, #2, Mexico
Opening hours: 10am-2pm, 4pm-6pm
Always opened on: Maundy (Holy) Thursday - Christian, Easter - Christian, Palm Sunday - Christian, Good Friday - Christian, Easter Monday - Christian
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Mexican Constitution Day (Día de la Constititución) (Feb 5), Mexico - Benito Juárez Birthday (Mar 21), Mexico - Battle of Pueblo Day (May 5), Mexico National Day (Sep 1), Mexican Independence Day (Sep 16), Mexican Revolution Day (Nov 20), Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec 12), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
The Museo Regional Potosino (Regional Museum) is to be found in an old Franciscan convent in the Calle Galeana south of the main square. Its exhibits are principally archaeological finds from the region (Huastec, Totonac and Aztec).
The Capilla Aránzazu, a masterpiece of the New Spanish Churrigueresque style dating from the early 18th c., is situated on the first floor; the door lintels, carved from mesquite wood, and the enormous Estípites (pyramidal wall pilasters with their points downwards) which bear the vault are particularly noteworthy. Also of interest is the statue of Christ, made from reeds coated with a resinous mixture, which stands in the entrance hall, and the paintings in the chapel and in the adjoining rooms.
Church of San Francisco
The 17th c. convent church of San Francisco on the Jardín Guerrero has a marvellous Baroque façade. Inside can be seen a crystal chandelier in the shape of a ship, and beautifully carved figures of saints.
Other sights in the town include the church of San Agustín (17th/ 18th c., crossing by Morelos and Abasolo), which has a simple Baroque façade, a beautiful tower and a Neo-Classical interior, Loreto, a Jesuit church (av. Obregon and Av.D. Camona), and the adjoining Sagrario. The Museo Regional de Arte Popular (House of Folk Art), the Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture) and Hidalgo market (rebozos, sarapes, wicker and cane work, ceramics, etc.), situated north of the main square, are recommended for shopping. Finally, the Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum) should also be mentioned.
Cerro de San Pedro
The ghost town Cerro de San Pedro is situated approximately 20km/13mi east in the direction of Río Verde. The silver and gold found here at the end of the 16th c. formed the basis of the wealth of San Luis Potosí.
Laguna de Media Luna
5km/3mi before reaching Río Verde a road branches off to the Laguna Media Luna ("Half Moon"); its warm and clear waters make it popular with amateur divers; many archaeological objects have been found here.
Santa Maria del Rio
The attractive little town of Santa María del Rio, famous for the fine rebozos made here, lies about 50km/31mi south of San Luis Potosí. Nearby are the radioactive thermal baths at Gogorrón, Lourdes and Ojo Caliente. The Jesus Maria Museum, in a former hacienda, is also worth a visit.
Map of San Luis Potosi Attractions